Article 7 and the adaptation communication
- Background and introduction
Article 7, paragraph 10 of the Paris Agreement (PA) states that “each party should, as appropriate, submit and update periodically an adaptation communication, which may include its priorities, implementation and support needs, plans, and actions, without creating any additional burden for developing country Parties”. Article 7, paragraph 11 of the PA goes on to say that the adaptation communication “shall be, as appropriate, submitted and updated periodically, as a component of or in conjunction with other communications or documents, including a national adaptation plan, a nationally determined contribution as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 2, and/or a national communication”.
The Ad hoc Working Group on the PA (APA), as part of its mandate to take forward certain elements of the Paris Agreement work programme, has been tasked with developing further guidance in relation to the adaptation communication, including, as a possible component of nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
At the first part of its first session (APA 1.1), the APA agreed to consider this matter on its agenda (as agenda item 4) and has subsequently continued its consideration during the following (resumed) sessions.
To facilitate the negotiations at APA 1.6 in Bangkok, the APA Co-Chairs were mandated to prepare “tools” based on the informal notes annexed to the conclusions of APA 1.5 – a result of Parties’ deliberations and submissions during that session. The tools were to contain proposals for streamlining, grouping together or merging text and options where possible.
These tools, including the tool for APA agenda item 4, were released in early August. The tool on APA agenda item 4 contains draft decision text and two annexes. The first annex is on elements of the adaptation communication, while the second annex proposes further guidance on the adaptation communication that is “vehicle-specific”, i.e. it breaks down guidance on submission of the adaptation communication that depends on the mode of communication (e.g. national adaptation plan, national communication, nationally determined contribution). Some groups of the G77 and China consider annex II the appropriate space for guidance on using nationally determined contributions as the vehicle for submitting the adaptation communication. The final section of the APA agenda item 4 tool is a table where the Co-Chairs have indicated paragraphs in sections of the APA 1.5 informal note that address similar or related issues.
The section of the agenda item 4 tool on decision text is structured as follows (based largely on a proposal made by the G77 and China during APA 1.5):
- Purpose (including both the purpose of the guidance and the purpose of the adaptation communication);
- Adoption of the guidance;
- Modalities for communicating, submitting and updating the adaptation communication;
- Modalities for updating/reviewing the guidance;
- Modalities of support for the preparation, updating and implementation of the adaptation communication; and
- Linkages (with the global stocktake, the transparency framework and finance).
Annex I lists possible elements to be included in the adaptation communication, including a proposal by the G77 and China to organize these elements as either “common” elements or “additional / opt in opt out” elements. There is a significant amount of detailed description associated with each of the elements listed. This detailed description was compiled by the APA Co-Chairs from submissions by Parties and was intended to provide a broader idea of possible information that the elements may include, but does not represent convergence among Parties.
Annex II distinguishes between two fundamentally different approaches: One option envisages that there would either be differentiated guidance applicable to the communication “vehicle” chosen by a Party to convey its adaptation communication, such as, for example, the nationally determined contribution or a national adaptation plan, or a common guidance applicable to any vehicle. The other option is specific to guidance on the nationally determined contribution.
- Bangkok negotiations
In Bangkok, Parties continued the mode of work adopted at previous sessions through a series of co-facilitated informal consultation meetings. Parties agreed to use the Co-Chairs’ tool as a basis for negotiations, and where deemed necessary to make progress, informal informal consultations on, amongst other things, the purpose of the guidance were also convened. Two new iterations of the tool were produced during the session, with a final “revised tool” being made available on 8 September 2018 (APA1-6.IN.i4v2). This revised tool has been reduced from 19 to 14 pages, but this is not necessarily reflective of the degree of clarity, streamlining and convergence of the matters under discussion.
The decision text section of the revised tool has evolved. For example, the text on the purpose of the adaptation communication has been streamlined and options have been identified. In certain areas text has moved from lists of bullet points to narrative (e.g. section 6 on modalities to revise/review the guidance and section 7 on support) and duplications have been reduced, but other sections have remained largely unchanged (e.g. section 8 on linkages).
The decision text section also includes language on the voluntary nature of the submission of adaptation communications and use of the guidance, as well as options for the review and updating of the guidance. In relation to the latter, several parties noted that the intention is to learn from experience and revise or update the guidance accordingly. This has been reflected in the latest iteration of the note in two ways: by linking para 2 which invites Parties to communicate their experience on the use of the guidance to para 1: “(…) to assist the revision referred to in paragraph 1 above.” Further, option 2 of paragraph 1 expressly envisages that the revision should be made “if necessary” and “taking into account the experiences of parties in implementing the guidance.”
As far as the annexes are concerned, these reflect two proposals for the guidance: (1) single or common guidance applicable to any vehicle chosen by a Party to convey its adaptation communication; and (2) vehicle-specific guidance. In the revised tool, the two proposals are set out in annexes I and II, respectively, and are presented as not mutually exclusive. The vehicle-specific guidance (as set out in annex II) is of particular importance to several sub-groups of the G77 and China.
It is interesting to note that annex I of the initial tool for agenda item 4 prepared by Co-Chairs includes loss and damage, including its articulation as the “limits of adaptation”. These references were not contested during the Bangkok session and remain in the revised tool made available at the end of the Bangkok negotiations.
Some Parties proposed “requesting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prepare a methodology report to provide guidelines on a suite of methodologies and approaches for communicating adaptation information, according to Article 7.10 and 7.11, that facilitate aggregation towards understanding collective progress towards adaptation goals”. Other Parties were opposed to that proposal.
- Background and introduction
Article 13, paragraph 13, PA states that “The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall, at its first session, building on experience from the arrangements related to transparency under the Convention, and elaborating on the provisions of this Article, adopt common modalities, procedures and guidelines, as appropriate, for the transparency of action and support.”
The Conference of the Parties, under paragraph 91 of Decision 1/CP.21, mandated the APA to “develop recommendations for modalities, procedures and guidelines in accordance with Article 13, paragraph 13 of the Agreement, and to define the year of their first and subsequent review and update, as appropriate, at regular intervals (…)”.
At the first part of its first session (APA 1.1), the APA agreed to consider this matter on its agenda (as agenda item 5) and has subsequently continued its consideration during the following (resumed) sessions.
As mentioned above, to facilitate the negotiations at APA 1.6 in Bangkok, the APA Co-Chairs were mandated to prepare “tools” based on the informal notes annexed to the conclusions of APA 1.5.
The additional tool relating to agenda item 5 released in early August contained proposals for streamlining, identify options based on Parties’ views and grouping together similar ideas. It noted, in particular, that further discussions will be needed as to the mandatory or voluntary nature of specific sections of the modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) and on Parties’ understanding of flexibility and how to operationalize flexibility in the MPGs.
It further noted that there are two proposals for the structure of the MPGs: (1)single/common MPGs applicable to all Parties with built-in flexibility to those developing country Parties that need it in the light of their capacities and (2) one that builds on the existing system under the Convention, with two separate parts for developed and developing country Parties, respectively.
Following the format of previous iterations, the tool contains 8 sections, each with sub-headings, addressing (1) overarching considerations and guiding principles, (2) national inventory reports, (3) information necessary to track progress in implementing and achieving NDCs under Art.4 PA, (4) information related to climate change impacts and adaptation under Art.7 PA, (5) information on means of implementation provided and mobilized under Art.9 – 11 PA, (6) information on means of implementation needed and received under Art.9-11 PA, (7) Technical expert review and (8) facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress.
- Bangkok negotiations
In Bangkok, Parties accepted the Co-Chairs’ tool as a basis for discussions and co-facilitated informal consultations took place throughout the week. Informal informal consultations were also convened to discuss specific issues including the relationship between objectives and guiding principles, which aspects of the UNFCCC’s existing MRV system should be superseded by the MPGs, whether there should be references to the Consultative Group of Experts, what synthesis reports would contain and how they would link to the global stocktake and the adaptation communication.
A revised version of section A (Overarching considerations and guiding principles) and another on section B (National inventory report) were produced during the session. The final iteration of the revised additional tool (APA1-6.IN.i5), released on 9 September 2018, captures progress made during the week. The structure of the revised tool remains the same except that the textual proposals for a COP and a CMA Decision have been removed from Section A and placed at the beginning of the tool.
One of the recurring themes running through many discussions related to how to interpret flexibility and operationalize it, with developing country groups asking for more language in the text eg on national inventory reports. Another related to deciding on what belongs to the transparency framework arena and what belongs to other negotiation tracks.
Thus, in the discussions on overarching considerations and guiding principles, a number of developing countries supported having flexibility for those developing countries that need it as a guiding principle. In relation to objectives, some countries noted that it is important to distinguish between the objectives of the transparency framework and those of the MPGs. Some noted that the issues of avoidance of double counting and environmental integrity do not belong in the MPGs. Following calls from LDCs, AOSIS and other developing country groups for including a reference to loss and damage in the objectives of the MPGs, the objective of generating comprehensive information on loss and damage to inform the Global Stocktake has been added to the latest iteration.
On information related to climate change impacts and adaptation, some developed countries made the case for incorporating the adaptation communication guidance into the transparency framework. Others disagreed, noting the different nature of the two sets of MPGs. Some suggested that substantive issues remain in the adaptation communication guidance, while information to be reported and reporting formats be addressed in the transparency framework. Some groups stressed the need to coordinate discussions under agenda items 4 and 5 and avoid duplication of work. A separate sub-section on loss and damage information (as part of section D) had already been included in the tool prior to Bangkok and is retained in the latest iteration with an expanded set of options.
On inventories, a number of developing countries called for adding language to reflect flexibility in the relevant sections eg on reporting guidance. One developed country observed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006 guidelines for inventories provide flexibility, including on data availability, that could serve as useful precedent for the MPGs.
On the topic of information necessary to track progress on NDC implementation and achievement, two developing country groups noted that the transparency framework discussions should be informed by those on accounting of NDCs, and on information to facilitate their clarity, transparency and understanding. Some developed countries drew a distinction between these discussions, saying that NDC discussions are about potential NDC content, while the transparency framework tracks progress.
Flexibility also featured in the discussions on technical expert reviews (TERs), with calls from developing countries for it to be reflected in the format of reviews. There were also diverging views on what the mandate of the TERs should be, the extent to which the TERs could examine the adequacy of NDCs and in terms of the type of information that could form part of reviews (eg whether it would include adaptation information or not).